WA State Senator Seeks Tougher Anti-Spam Law

In an effort to toughen Washington state's formidable anti-spam law and to make it easier to filter out spam, state Sen. Bill Finkbeiner has introduced legislation that seeks the clear labeling of commercial e-mail messages as advertisements and would require marketers to provide full contact information.

Senate Bill 6568 seeks to amend Washington's junk e-mail law by forcing senders to include “ADV:” in the subject line. It also would require marketers to display prominently their legal name, mailing address, physical address, e-mail address and telephone number, including area code, in the body of the message.

Though the current anti-spam law prohibits marketers from sending messages with false or misleading information in the subject line, Finkbeiner said that's not enough.

“I don't want people to confuse these bulk mailings with legitimate e-mail anymore,” the Republican said. “Computer users should be able to know instantly what's spam and what isn't. This bill would make it easier for people to filter out this junk mail.”

The anti-spam camp, however, does not think Finkbeiner's legislation goes far enough. They note that spammers already violate some or all of the provisions in the current law by falsifying headers or not including correct contact information and that there is no incentive for them to comply with the new bill.

Some called on Finkbeiner to include provisions that would enable consumers not only to bring spam cases in small claims court, but to sue “John Doe” and subpoena records from companies that have information about the alleged spammer they are suing.

The legislation has been referred to the state Senate Committee on Economic Development and Telecommunications.

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